Public Food Procurement to Meet New York City’s Climate Goals
Adapting to climate change impacts on the food system has become a priority for New York City. Recently, Mayor Adams announced a 33% reduction of food consumption-based emissions. The city is also examining how it can increase transparency in its food procurement and direct its food dollars to address environmental sustainability, economic resilience, supply chain innovation, urban-rural connections, and equity in the city and other parts of our regional food system.
A three-year action research effort to support public food procurement decisions is being launched during New York Climate Week. This project, funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Rockefeller Foundation, will engage stakeholders across the supply chain from farmers to processors, distributors and institutional buyers. These will be the focus of robust analysis with a supply chain research model used in Denver, Colorado and harnessing research teams from Colorado State University, Cornell University, and RTI. Local and regional governments are on the front lines of the climate emergency and are often first responders to impacts of severe weather impacts. Cities and subnational governments, civil society and the private sector are collaborating in new ways to recover from, adapt to and build resilience across sectors.
One sector receiving more attention in cities and local communities across the world is the resilience of the food systems that connect food producers to food consumers. Public food procurement for schools and hospitals, correction facilities and senior centers, food banks and soup kitchens is a primary lever to address food and nutrition security. New York provides more than 230 million meals a year and spends over 300 million dollars on food purchases. Food Forward NYC – the first 10-year comprehensive food plan – includes food procurement changes that seek to incorporate five values in procurement decisions including animal welfare, improved nutrition, a valued workforce, environmental sustainability and support for local economies. These values are at the heart of a national Good Food Procurement Program, which is incorporated into 450 million meals across the U.S., representing more than $1.1 billion in annual expenditures. In Copenhagen, the Municipality challenged itself with the goal of 90% of all purchased food ingredients for the city’s public food system coming from certified organic sources. The program included involvement from thousands of stakeholders, reflecting requirements of changes in diets and meal cultures in order to achieve its climate-related goals. In the context of both the Food Forward NYC plan and the Good Food Purchasing program, NYC will be engaged in a three-year research project to understand the potential impacts and tradeoffs of different implementation scenarios.
The research model, adapted from a recently completed project in Denver, CO, will allow for simulation of complex systems at a time of increased vulnerability and changes due to climate change. The project will integrate economic data, social decision-making factors, biophysical crop data, and life cycle analysis to simulate potential changes to the policy environment and impacts throughout stages of selected supply chains, from public food purchasing to producer planting regimes, with potential outcomes including diversifying sources of healthy foods, improved water and air quality, and reduced CO2 emissions. Parallel to and as part of the project NYC will exchange lessons and innovations in similar efforts of city regions in other parts of the world.
• Kate Mackenzie, Executive Director of The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy
• Betina Bergmann Madsen, Chief Procurement Officer, Copenhagen
• Becca Jablonski, co-Director of the Food Systems Institute, Colorado State University
Moderator: Stineke Oenema, Executive Secretary, United Nations Nutrition